LSU vs Alabama is shaping up to be the best regular season game of the year. This will be the 24th time in college football history that the top two teams in the AP Poll will face each other in the regular season. The last time this happened, in 2011, when LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime. This matchup should see more offense as both teams have Heisman candidates at quarterback. The winner of this game will most likely win the SEC West, and practically lock up a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Date: November 9, 2019
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Location: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Joe Burrow has completely transformed himself into a top level college quarterback this season. LSU decided to change to a spread offense last offseason and it has benefited Burrow. The Tigers rank first in passing success, and 12th in rushing success. One thing, they aren’t a very explosive offense, as they rank 125th in rushing explosiveness and 82nd in passing explosiveness. LSU is going to march the ball down field and wear out a defense because this offense still averages 7.2 yards per play. Look for the Tigers to get things going with running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Alabama’s defensive line has been good, but it hasn’t been as dominant in years past. If LSU can get their rushing attack going, it will open up the passing game tremendously.
LSU is holding teams to 4.5 yards per play. The Tigers defense has been fairly consistent this season, but there are some concerns going up against the Alabama offense. LSU ranks 113th defensive passing explosiveness, meaning opposing offenses can make big plays against this defense. At the end of their game against Auburn, safety Grant Delpit rolled his ankle making a tackle. The trainers held him out as a precaution, but if he isn’t 100 percent, it can be a huge blow to the Tigers secondary. Also, LSU does have trouble getting to the quarterback. They rank 70th in sack rate, according to Football Outsiders, so Tua could have a big day if LSU struggles in pass defense.
Head coach Nick Saban is keeping Tua Tagovailoa’s injury status lowkey for Saturday. This would be surprising if Tua didn’t go for Saturday, and Alabama would be in a much better position if he did. He’s completing nearly 75 percent of his passes and has been great at limiting turnovers averaging .6 giveaways per game. The Crimson Tide offense is averaging 7.6 yards per play. Their biggest mismatch, passing explosiveness. They rank 17th in passing explosiveness compared to LSU’s defense that ranks 113th. If Tua is healthy, this will be a huge advantage for Alabama as they will be able to move the ball down field when needed. Alabama still has one of the best offensive lines in the country, so they matchup well against the LSU front seven.
This Crimson Tide defense is still very good, but it isn’t great this season. They’re still holding teams to 4.4 yards per play, but their rush defense has been suspect. They rank 31st in opponents yards per rush, and 36th in defensive rushing success. No team should feel disappointed in those rankings, but when the team is Alabama, there are some concerns. LSU ranks 12th in rushing success. This will affect the Tide defense if they aren’t able to slow down Edwards-Helaire. The LSU offensive line does have the advantage over the Alabama defensive line, according to Football Outsiders. The battle in the trenches on Saturday will be huge. The Crimson Tide’s pass defense should still be able to contain Burrow. They rank fifth in opponents yards per pass, and 15th in defensive passing success.
LSU +6 is as low as I’ll probably go on siding with the Tigers. This game should be very tight throughout, and the Tigers should be able to stay within a touchdown of ‘Bama. However, as of writing this, the line sits at 5.5 points. If the line continues to drop, Alabama -4 or -3, this would be the side to take at that point. This is going to be one of the heaviest bet games this season. The line is going to be sharp and every point matters. The odds of the line dropping to Alabama -4 or -3 are probably slim, but if it is the case, trying to middle LSU and Alabama wouldn’t be a bad idea. Regardless, I’m sticking with LSU +6.